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J Neurosci. 2003 Apr 1;23(7):2815-23.

TUC-4b, a novel TUC family variant, regulates neurite outgrowth and associates with vesicles in the growth cone.

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Section of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


The TUC (TOAD-64/Ulip/CRMP) proteins are homologs of UNC-33, a protein that is required for axon extension and guidance in Caenorhabditis elegans. The TUC proteins are expressed in newly born neurons in the developing nervous system and have been implicated in semaphorin signaling and neuronal polarity. Here, we identify several new variants of the TUC family, each of which is expressed during distinct periods of neural development. We cloned and characterized TUC-4b, a variant of TUC-4a that includes a unique N-terminal extension. The functional relevance of this N-terminal domain is demonstrated by the finding that overexpression of TUC-4b, but not TUC-4a, results in increased neurite length and branching. Furthermore, whereas TUC-4a is expressed throughout life, TUC-4b is expressed exclusively during embryonic development. TUC-4b is localized to SV2 (synaptic vesicle protein 2)-positive vesicles in the central domain of the growth cone, suggesting a potential role in growth cone vesicle transport. Furthermore, TUC-4b interacts with the SH3A (Src homology 3A) domain of intersectin, an endocytic-exocytic adaptor protein. Together, these data suggest that TUC-4b can regulate neurite extension and branching through a mechanism that may involve membrane transport in the growth cone.

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